Miliband pledges London-style regulated bus service across England

Local government to be allowed to set fares and routes

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A Labour government would give cities and regions greater powers to regulate bus services, Ed Miliband has announced.

Under the plans, councils would be able to set fares and routes, and could mandate smartcard ticketing systems similar London's Oyster card across different modes of transport.

The Labour leader pledged to let councils run services in the “public interest”, arguing that the new powers would let local authorities plan bus services in a more rational way so that they could integrate better with local railways and trams.

“The next Labour government will hand regions that want it the power to regulate their bus services so that local people and local businesses get the public transport system they need to succeed, Mr Miliband said in a speech to in Manchester.

“Labour will legislate so that city and county regions can set fares, decide routes, and integrate bus services with trams, trains and the wider public transport network. “

The Labour leader said the proposals were part of Labour’s commitment to ensuring the whole UK benefited from economic growth, rather than just London’s financial district.

“Labour has a radical plan for spreading power and prosperity across England’s city and county regions, so that the recovery reaches your town square – not just the Square Mile of the City of London,” he argued.

Mr Miliband went on to describe bus services as “arteries that keep our regional economics moving”.

London’s Greater London Authority already enjoys the power to regulate buses. Services were deregulated in the rest of the country by Margaret Thatcher’s Transport Act 1985.

Bus use has risen rapidly in London in recent years, but has fallen dramatically in the rest of the UK since deregulation.

Prior to deregulation large parts of the bus service were own by local authorities, and those that were not were strictly regulated by them. Today tend to be owned by a small number of international transport conglomerates.

Under the specifics of the plans, local travel areas would be set by local authorities banding together in ‘combined authorities’.